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Phoenix Suns oust NBA champion LA Lakers in first round of playoffs

/ 01:52 PM June 04, 2021
Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns dribbles in front of Dennis Schroder #17 of the Los Angeles Lakers in the second quarter during game six of the Western Conference first round series at Staples Center on June 03, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. Harry How/Getty Images/AFP NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Harry How / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

Devin Booker of the Phoenix Suns dribbles in front of Dennis Schroder of the Los Angeles Lakers in the second quarter during game six of the Western Conference first round series at Staples Center on June 03, 2021 in Los Angeles, California.  (Getty Images via AFP)

LOS ANGELES  – The Phoenix Suns, fueled by 47 points from Devin Booker, beat the Los Angeles Lakers 113-100 Thursday to eliminate the reigning NBA champions in the first round of the playoffs.

Superstar LeBron James scored 29 points to lead the Lakers, but they were unable to dig themselves out of a 29-point first-half hole and lost the best-of-seven Western Conference series four games to two.

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The last defending NBA champion to be knocked out in the first round was the San Antonio Spurs in 2015.

“That’s the only way we wanted it to be honest,” Booker said of drawing the Lakers in the first round.

“We knew we weren’t going to get to where we wanted to go without going through them, and it happened to be in the first round.

“It was a tough match-up all the way through. Once they got us down 2-1 we had to regroup and get everything right and we came in and we battled,” added Booker, whose team next faces the Denver Nuggets, who eliminated the Portland Trail Blazers Thursday with a 126-115 victory in game six of their series.

James, who won his fourth NBA title when he led the Lakers to victory in the quarantine bubble in Orlando last season, had never before lost in the first round in 14 prior appearances.

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He and the Lakers clearly felt the lack of star Anthony Davis, who was a game-time decision to start after missing the second half of game four and all of game five with a groin strain.

Davis, clearly hindered by the injury, lasted less than six scoreless minutes and the Suns grabbed the game by the throat in the first quarter with Booker scoring 22 points in the opening period.

He’s a warrior,” Vogel said of Davis. “It was difficult for him to be able to move. We did everything we could from a treatment standpoint to loosen it up and we were hoping that some in-game adrenaline would help.

“But he certainly wasn’t moving well at all to start the game and then went down grabbing at it early in the first.

Meanwhile, Booker made eight of nine shots from the floor in the first quarter, including six of six from three point range.

The Suns led 36-14 after the first period and from there the Lakers never got the deficit below double digits.

FIRST TIME SINCE 2010

“Credit the Suns,” Vogel said. “They came out and made their first seven threes or something. Booker was red-hot to start the game. They put us in the deficit and it was too much to overcome.”

The Suns have won three straight games to reach the second round for the first time since 2010, when they fell to the Lakers in the Western Conference finals in their most recent playoff appearance.

“I’ve been working my whole life for this moment so it wasn’t time to shy away from it,” Booker said. “Plenty of hours of sacrificing a lot of life to this game. So I wanted to put it on full display tonight.”

But he said the Suns would face another demanding test in the Nuggets.

“They’re tough, they’re playing very hard. It’s going to be a battle and we understand that going into it.”

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TAGS: Lebron James, Los Angeles Lakers, NBA playoffs, Phoenix Suns
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